Tinges of green peeked through the mounting piles of Fall leaves spreading across the mountain trail, reminding me of my colorful Crazy Quilt back home. Only here the kaleidoscope of colors was even more vibrant and the scope of them did not end at a hem, but continued on and on as far as I could see. Great massive trees lined this path I had chosen, each a wonder in itself, with open arms still bearing leaves of burnt oranges, burnished yellows, tropical shades of green and curled-edged browns still tenaciously dangling off the ends like gnarled fingers. Dull to bright red foliage intermingled with the rest, creating a stark contrast against the horizon’s whitish backdrop.
Once a year, without fail, I left my stereotyped comfortable city home to ramble through Grandmother’s hills, deeply inhaling Autumn’s unique scents, as if in so doing I could bring her form heaven back to earth to fill me with her soothing presence. Ever down-to-earth practical as she was good, Grandma loved her simple cottage nestled at the foot of Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains beside a small lake that mirrored the trees in wavy personifications.
“I learned to love God through your example, Maw-Maw,” I whispered, standing at the edge of His glorious view, wondering how heaven could be even more beautiful that these surroundings.
Hawk Mountain’s topmost North Lookout, to my left, would be populated with bird watchers observing the Autumn migration of raptors consisting of hawks, eagles and falcons riding the air currents to assist them in traveling as far as the southern part of South America. But I preferred to stand on the fringe for glimpses of the awesome sight, not wanting the pristine, holy atmosphere interrupted by human conversation or comradery. This time, I was privileged to see a large spiral of vultures getting a free ride on a thermal, white wispy clouds reposing behind them. I smiled, remembering my astonishment when I saw this the first time as a child, Grandma describing this phenomena as a simmering kettle, and, even now, when I closed my eyes and listened to the distant chirpings, I could imagine each bird a boiling bubble.
Unrolling my blanket, I laid down beneath the sun and shadows playing tag with each other, basking in the beauty, breathing great gulps of precious clear air like a marathon runner surging his parched throat with water. Just a few feet away, I could hear the gentle lapping of Grandma’s lake, and an occasional splash from a fish or toad. How I savored these moments!
“The Lord is my shepherd.
I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup overflows.
Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life,
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” *
I repeated Grandma’s favorite psalm before drifting into a peaceful cleansing sleep . . .
Upon awakening, I stretched luxuriously and then donned my light jacket as the cooler afternoon mountain air enveloped me. It was time for me to leave, I could tell by the lengthening shadows; yet, I was reluctant to go.
“Father God, I would stay here drinking in your glory and fellowshipping with you . . . but, I realize that would be selfish, for You need me to finish what You began in me for others to see. So, I will go down to the valley and back to my little slice of humanity to share Your love, trusting that our communion here will strengthen me and sustain me until I return to this trysting place where I feel nearer to You than anywhere else on earth.”
I turned to go, backtracking my morning journey, mentally memorizing each color, each nuance, each song of nature seemingly playing for my benefit and future recollection. And I promised, for the umpteenth time, that my grandmother’s legacy to me would be the same one I would pass down to a future granddaughter of my own.
*Psalm 23, The Holy Bible, New International Version
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